In the safe hands of ACRES Singapore

The timely rescue of a young Malayan colugo

Two days ago, I chanced upon a heartwarming story of the timely rescue of a young Malayan colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) in Singapore posted on Facebook by a fellow animal lover, Mei. While reading it, I thought to myself…I simply have to share this story with you! So I promptly contacted her with an irresistible invite to be my guest blogger. Lucky for me, she agreed. In her own words, let us share this wonderful story that unfolded right before her eyes. Be prepared to have your own ‘Awwww’ moment too at the end, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Friday, 21 August 2015 MacRitchie Reservoir Park, SINGAPORE
Shared By: Mei Hwang

(Warning: Images may cause distress to some viewers.)

It was a day like any other. I was out for my nature walk with my camera, something I had been doing on a regular basis for almost 2 years. When I arrived at the entrance of MacRitchie Reservoir Park, there was a group of people gathered around a troop of Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). The macaques were in turn gathered around what I initially thought was a young macaque. When I took a closer look, I realised to my horror that it was a young Malayan colugo. The macaques were making a sport of the poor colugo, taking turns to drag it about. But macaques are naturally very curious animals and were most likely just checking out this strange new species which had found its way on the ground. No matter, my heart sank and I thought there was no way the young colugo would survive being subjected to such trauma. It was heartbreaking to hear the cries of distress from the colugo while it fought tenaciously for its life.

The distressed baby Colugo trying to get away
The distressed young colugo trying to get away
The baby colugo continued it's brave fight to get away
The colugo continued it’s brave fight to get away

After a while, the crowd lost interest and began to disperse. I looked around a little helplessly and worried for the safety of the colugo. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw two people in ACRES* (a local animal rescue group) t-shirts standing some distance away.  Talk about good timing! I ran over to them and quickly alerted them to the situation. I was so glad to have caught them as they were actually there to respond to another request for help.

They contacted another colleague, who arrived at the scene very quickly and sprang into action. We kept a watchful eye on the macaques (especially the alpha male) in case they should turn aggressive. With long sticks in hand, the ACRES crew carefully approached the macaques to disperse them to facilitate the safe rescue of the young colugo. Thankfully, the macaques retreated and we were able to rescue the colugo which by this time had scrambled into the drain for safety.

Waiting to be rescued.
Waiting to be rescued

It was swiftly brought back to ACRES for observation. Even though the macaques were not maliciously trying to hurt the colugo, I am just glad that this incident was intercepted on time. It was a great relief for me to receive a text message later that night that the young Colugo was doing well and had been released back into the wild.

Safe and sound with ACRES
Successfully rescued by ACRES Singapore

Kudos to the good people at ACRES for being at the right place and at the right time. It was an absolute thrill for me to play a small part in this rescue operation. What a day!

Meet Mei Hwang, my guest blogger from Singapore

I live in Singapore and started my journey in nature photography in September 2013 after following a friend on a birding walk. I have not looked back since and do about three walks a week taking pictures of the flora and fauna in the parks and nature reserves of Singapore. I look forward to every single walk and never cease to be amazed at the sheer biodiversity in the small island state of Singapore.”

A BIG thank you to Mei for sharing this story with us! You are awesome!

*Who is ACRES?

ACRES, an acronym for Animal Concerns Research & Education Society is a Singapore-based charity that promotes animal welfare and carries out wildlife rescue work. They run a number of vital campaigns promoting awareness in the local community about illegal wildlife trade and animal cruelty issues. I encourage you to visit their site and learn more about their ongoing contributions to make this world a better place for animals in Singapore. The site is comprehensive and packed with a number of interesting information resources (i.e. Cruelty-free living, Zoo animal welfare). Also, don’t miss the inspirational story about their humble beginning.

Don’t you just love stories with a happy ending and we definitely need more of them 🙂 Hope it brought a smile on your face. Till next time everyone!

Photo Credit: Mei Hwang

Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Wildlife Snapshot #1: Malayan Colugo

Malayan Colugo

The Malayan colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) is also known as the Malayan flying lemur or the Sunda flying lemur. This is one of the two ‘flying lemur’ species, with the other being the Philippine flying lemur. Contrary to its name, the Malayan colugo is not a lemur (found in Madagascar) and does not fly. It is a large arboreal (tree-dwelling) night active mammal species found throughout Southeast Asia in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore. Their habitats include tropical rain forests, gardens and plantations. A recent research has found that they preferred habitats with thick tree canopy cover.

If they don’t fly, what then?

They are gliders. The Malayan colugo use their amazing gliding skills to descent to lower heights from the forest canopies. Extending their strong large fold of kite shaped skin (known as patagium) when leaping off trees help them to glide from point A to point B. Records show that they can glide up to a distance of 100 metres. Gliding between longer distances enables the colugo to avoid high impact landing leading to injuries¹. So further the destination, the better.

Malayan Colugo in gliding motion
Malayan Colugo in gliding motion

Physical characteristics

A Malayan colugo in Pierce Reservoir, Singapore

It spots a reddish/brownish grey fur shade and can measure between 34 to 38 cm (head to body) in length. The tail measures between 24 to 25 cm with a weight range between 0.9 to 1.3 kg. It is definitely not a small fella!

The Malayan colugo has big beautiful forward facing eyes, giving it excellent vision complimenting its night time activities. The facial features include a small head, small rounded ears and a blunt muzzle. Although they look like a large bat (e.g. flying foxes), they are more closely related to primates.

What does it eat?

The diet of this herbivorous species consists of leaves, buds, shoots, flowers, fruits and sap (only from selected trees).

Tell me about the conservation status

At present, the Malayan colugo has been listed as ‘Least Concern (ver 3.1)‘ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature is the world’s leading authority on the conservation status of species.

Why ‘Least Concern’?

When you refer to the IUCN page, the justification for the ‘Least Concern (ver 3.1)’ listing is that their population is not declining at a fast rate to escalate to a higher status (e.g. Near Threatened, Vulnerable). The main threats are habitat loss (e.g. housing developments), deforestation, competition from other species with similar diet and habitat requirements and finally, hunting.Colugo 2 Good news is, they are protected under national legislation with some populations found in protected areas (i.e. Peninsular Malaysia and Java).

I am sure many will agree that no matter what the conservation status is, the threats faced by these species are real and ongoing which affects their population numbers. By reading this post, together we have discovered what a Malayan colugo is and hopefully continue to learn more about them and share this knowledge with our family and friends. To me, awareness is always a great first step towards species conservation.

¹. Byrnes, G., Norman T. -L., Lim., and Andrew, J. Spence. (2008). Take-off and landing kinetics of a free-ranging gliding mammal, the Malayan colugo (Galeopterus variegatus). The Royal Society PublishingDOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1684. Free full text.

Photo Credits:(from the top)
(1) BioDivLibrary / Foter / CC BY
(3) Pen Araneae / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
(4) berniedup / Foter / CC BY-SA
(5) Header Image – / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My Top 5 Favourite Animals

Truth is, I have so many more on my favourite list and it was so hard to pick the best out them to feature it here. So I decided in a true adult fashion, write them all down on pieces of paper and pick them at random! Please be aware that the top five here in no way reflects the order of my preferences. Bottom line, I love them all.

Here it goes with a quick history on why I fell in love with each of them. I have also included some links to some websites which provide more details about each animal if you get thirsty for more information.

(1) Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

How can you not love this face? Seriously! The first time I met an Echidna was in Tasmania Australia. Tasmania has to be one of the most beautiful places I have been to. I was driving along the highway when I saw this slow moving brown spikey animal crossing the road about 20 metres ahead. I quickly pulled the car over, jumped out and ran towards this animal to check it out. At this point, I had only ever heard of them from nature magazines and some environmental posters. It was pure delight seeing it in flesh. I cannot describe the intense love at first sight feeling when I saw it. Being a highway, cars were tearing down the road and the last thing I wanted was a roadkill situation. Instinctively, I took my scarf off and placed it gently over its spikey body…tucked my hands under the belly and swiftly picked it up and got it across the road safely. I then spent a further five minutes just watching it go about its business as it briefly looked up at me and went on its way! Those beady eyes melted my heart.

Later I found out that Echidnas are one of the two only mammals which lay eggs! The other is a Platypus, two Aussie natives 🙂 If you are keen to find out more about these fascinating creature, click here.

Young Echidna
Short-beaked Echidna

(2) Manatee (Trichechus)

This gentle sweet aquatic animal is an absolute pleasure to sit and observe. When I first saw a Manatee, my first thoughts were…oh my…how majestic and calm. There was this sense of overwhelming innocence projected through their eyes, I cannot quite explain it. Some years ago, I was visiting Singapore Zoo as I always do when I go back to visit my family. As I was walking around with my family, I noticed a queue ahead of me. Curiosity got the better of me and for no reason, decided to run forward and see what the fuss was about. To my glee, I found out that it was a ‘meet and feed’ the Manatees session for a small fee. I was lucky that I saw this on time as the feeding session times are extremely limited and so it should be! I handed the money and in turn was handed a small basket full of boiled carrots and potatoes to feed the Manatees.

Continue reading “My Top 5 Favourite Animals”